Ever since Pokemon GO kicked off, the city of Rhodes, Sydney, has been a hotspot for Pokemon and their trainers. It hasn’t been quite so popular with the area’s residents though, who at one point resorted to water bombing players.
The game’s popularity hasn’t diminished in the past week, and neither has the flurry of activity around Rhodes. So the council responsible for the area has gotten involved, petitioning developers Niantic to have two of the three most trafficked spots in the site removed.
Gary Sawyer, the general manager of City of Canada Bay Council, told Domain that the influx of players had created several practical issues for local government. According to the council, emergency services found it difficult to reach an apartment fire because of traffic congestion.
“There have been a number of concerning instances already including an emergency services vehicle having difficulty reaching an apartment fire due to traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and reports of motorcycles using cycle and footpaths to get around traffic congestion,” Sawyer said.
Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) said that they were able to reach a cooking fire in a unit on Rhodes’ Mary St, although that the area was “heavily congested” with cars and people. That contradicts details on an image begun circulating online, however, where residents are encouraged to petition Niantic to remove two Pokestops in the local area by saying the influx of traffic had blocked a fire truck from reaching “its destination”.
Videos have been circulating on Facebook and YouTube showing hundreds of avid trainers circulating outside apartment blocks searching for rare Pokemon. Trainers can be seen standing in the middle of the street, to the point where a police car lightly beeps its horn to remind people to get off the street.
A video shot from an apartment block also shows the level of congestion, with traffic on a two-way street reduced to a crawl.
Another video shows a police officer interacting with a driver allegedly blocking a driveway, while hundreds can be seen in the background walking on the sidewalk and the streets:
Perhaps the most powerful image is a shot of Peg Paterson Park, showing the impact of the game’s popularity on the state of the park.
A petition has also been started asking for the council to “temporarily close Peg Paterson Park”. “After suffering excessive noise pollution, litter, traffic, abusive and dangerous behavior morning, noon and well into the night, the residents of Rhodes demand this stops now,” the petition reads.
A nearby chess set has also been damaged:
I reached out to Fire and Rescue NSW about whether other instances had occurred where Pokemon GO players had impeded their work. In a comment over email, they said “we are not aware of any other instances involving Pokemon GO sites”.
“Pedestrian and traffic control are issues for local councils and police and FRNSW is not in a position to comment further,” the department added. The City of Canada Bay Council was also contacted for comment, but did not respond by the time of publication.